Meta

Adding Inuktitut as an Official Language on Facebook Desktop

Takeaways

  • Inuktitut is now available as a language setting on Facebook desktop, thanks to our partnerships with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) and the Pirurvik Centre.
  • As a polysynthetic language, Inuktitut words are longer and more complex when compared to their equivalents in English or French.
  • The launch aligns with the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), which designates this decade as a time to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages.

Today, we’re proud to announce Inuktitut is available as a language setting on Facebook desktop. The initiative to provide Inuktitut is the culmination of a four-year partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) to promote the daily use of the Inuit language spoken in communities across Nunavut.

The translated interface is now available to the nearly 25,000 people across the Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland in Canada, who list Inuktitut as their mother tongue. The translation is also accessible to people on Facebook globally. The launch aligns with the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which designates this decade as a time to draw global attention to the critical situation of many Indigenous languages.

“Inuit expect to see and hear Inuktut in all aspects of our lives. Recognizing Inuktitut as an official language on Facebook, equal to English and French, reinforces the legitimacy of our language,” said Aluki Kotierk, President, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. “Being able to access Facebook in our own language is an important and concrete step towards seeing and hearing Inuktut in all aspects of our lives.”

In Canada, language revitalization is included in the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The preservation, revitalization and strengthening of Indigenous languages is fundamental to advancing the process of Canadian reconciliation. 

“Facebook is a vital tool for connection and community for Inuit,” said Debbie Reid, Indigenous Policy Manager at Meta in Canada. “At Meta, we recognize that language is integral to the Inuit way of being and identity, and we are honoured to play a role in supporting the efforts of NTI to strengthen and promote the vitality of their language.”

“The idea of translating Facebook into Inuktitut was born from a brainstorming meeting in Iqaluit we had with President Kotierk and NTI four years ago. We learned that many Inuit are Facebook power users, and we asked how we can make Facebook an even better experience for them,” said Kevin Chan, a Global Policy Director at Meta. “We are so pleased to be able to deliver on this long-standing project.”

Translating the Facebook desktop interface into Inuktitut

The translation of Facebook was led by the Pirurvik Centre, a translation and learning centre based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The Pirurvik Centre ensured the translation was high-quality and consistent with existing technical terminology. 

As a polysynthetic language, Inuktitut words are longer and more complex when compared to their equivalents in English or French. In total, 2,000 strings of language on Facebook needed to be translated into Inuktitut, representing approximately 4,500 words. There were some new concepts created for the Facebook interface because there were no equivalents in Inuktitut. For example, “Facebook page” will now be known as “Facebook makpigaq” in Inuktitut.

“Pirurvik is honoured to have worked with Meta and NTI to ensure the new words created in Inuktitut reflect the nuances of our language and culture,” said Leena Evic, Executive Director, Pirurvik Centre, “The Facebook interface in Inuktitut will be a daily educational tool for younger generations to learn Inuktitut and a communication tool for Inuktitut speaking Inuit.”

According to Media Technology Monitor’s latest report on media technology penetration and usage in Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories, Facebook is the most used social network. Now, Inuktitut joins more than 100 other languages available on Facebook, and a growing number of Indigenous languages. In 2018, Facebook launched Inupiaq language settings. Inupiaq is a dialect of the Inuit language family, spoken in northern Alaska and the Northwest Territories.

Changing your language settings on the Facebook desktop interface to Inuktitut

While Inuktitut has multiple dialects, the South Baffin dialect is now available on the Facebook desktop interface. People on Facebook can switch their language settings on desktop through the Settings menu. 

By introducing Inuktitut as an official language on Facebook desktop, we hope this will support unilingual Inuktitut speakers to create community online, while fostering greater adoption of the language amongst younger generations of Inuit.


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